Baseball Preview: Santa Clara Pitching

Santa Clara expected to have a much improved pitching staff despite having a 6.31 team ERA in 2009 with just about their entire pitching staff returning. But, an inconsistent pitching staff has once again held the Broncos down and they are 6th in the WCC with a 5.90 team ERA.

Santa Clara has some solid arms on their staff and are 2nd in the WCC in K’s but they are next to last in the conf in BB’s, have allowed teams to hit .318 and given up 37 HR’s (6th in the conf in both categories).  One thing the Santa Clara pitchers will do is throw often to first to hold runners because they have picked off 23 runners so that will be a key area to watch with Fullerton looking to send runners often.  The Broncos have an all RHP staff so there won’t be any switching going on this weekend to bring in LHP’s vs. LH hitters.

 

Starters

Fri SP – SR #9 Nate Garcia (RHP – 3-8, 6.31 ERA, 12 starts, 77 IP, 99 H, 35 BB, 98 K, .311 BA, 8 HR, 5 HBP, 10 WP) is a hard thrower who is 2nd in the WCC in K’s and expected to have a better SR season after being solid last year (’09 stats – 7-5, 4.33 ERA, 96 IP, 95 H, 30 BB, 96 K, .260 BA, 5 HR).  He has had issues with his control and when he has gotten the ball over the plate, his fastball has often straightened out and allowed hitters to tee off.  After a poor start at San Diego when he allowed 8 R in 5 IP, it looked like Garcia had turned the corner when he allowed 3 R in each of his starts against St. Mary’s and Gonzaga before he allowed 10 R in 6 IP in his most recent start against USF.  Garcia has a good move to first and has picked off four runners but is slow to the plate and has allowed runners to go 18-22 on SB attempts over the last two seasons.

Sat SP – SR #1 Alex Rivers (RHP – 5-7, 4.43 ERA, 12 starts, 3 CG, 85 IP, 103 H, 30 BB, 69 K, .301 BA, 2 HR, 7 HBP, 9 WP) is a ground ball specialist who relies on control and spotting his fastball to get batters out and is in his second year as a SP (’09 stats – 4-4, 4.85 ERA, 78 IP, 79 H, 32 BB, 67 K, .271 BA, 6 HR).  He has been Santa Clara’s best SP in conf games and threw a three hit shutout at Pepperdine and a CG at Gonzaga when he allowed 3 R.  When Rivers hasn’t been sharp teams have been able to hit him and he allowed 9 R (4 ER) on 10 H in 6 2/3 IP in his most recent start against USF and allowed 13 R (10 ER) on 21 H in 12 2/3 IP in his two starts between his CG’s against Pepperdine and Gonzaga.  Rivers also has a good move to first and has picked off five runners but when baserunners have gotten a jump, it has usually resulted in a stolen base because he has allowed 34-43 on SB attempts the last two years.  

Sun SP – FR #30 Chris Mendoza (RHP – 4-5, 5.34 ERA, 13 apps, 10 starts, 1 CG, 62 IP, 84 H, 21 BB, 32 K, .328 BA, 3 HR, 9 HBP, 6 WP) doesn’t throw hard and relies on spotting his fastball and keeping the ball down to get hitters out.  He had a good start at Gonzaga three weeks ago when he allowed 1 R in 8 IP but has started to wear down and in his three other conf starts he allowed 17 R (12 ER) on 27 H before allowing 7 R on 6 H in 2/3 IP in his start Wednesday at UC Davis.  Baserunners are 6-8 on SB attempts against Mendoza.

 

Relievers

Santa Clara has gotten solid results from their closer and main set-up man with an 18-1 record when leading after 7 innings and 18-0 when leading after 8 innings but when teams have gotten into their bullpen early and the Broncos have had to use other relievers, the results haven’t been good.

The closer is Soph #13 J.R. Graham (RHP – 1-1, 4.07 ERA, 21 apps, 4 saves, 24 IP, 32 H, 10 BB, 18 K, .320 BA, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 3 WP) and he will usually only be used for one inning or so.  The set-up man for Graham is SR #31 Steve Kalush (RHP – 2-0, 3.65 ERA, 17 apps, 25 IP, 27 H, 12 BB, 25 K, .281 BA, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 4 WP), who has the best ERA and opps AVG on the staff and is usually available for 2-3 innings.

Other relievers that could see action this weekend are midweek SP’s FR #11 Jon Hughes (RHP – 2-2, 7.53 ERA, 13 apps, 7 starts, 43 IP, 54 H, 24 BB, 50 K, .305 BA, 6 HR, 6 HBP, 9 WP) and FR #21 Brock Simon (RHP – 1-2, 7.79 ERA, 1 save, 18 apps, 7 starts, 35 IP, 46 H, 12 BB, 22 K, .317 BA, 5 HR, 4 HBP, 6 WP), JR #38 Cory Hall (RHP – 2-0, 6.64 ERA, 15 apps, 20 IP, 34 H, 7 BB, 18 K, .358 BA, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 2 WP), FR #23 Rhett Nelson (RHP – 1-0, 7.59 ERA, 12 apps, 11 IP, 20 H, 2 BB, 6 K, .385 BA, 3 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP), Soph #35 Jason Westerberg (0-1, 8.50 ERA, 16 apps, 18 IP, 24 H, 11 BB, 17 K, .316 BA, 2 HR, 2 HBP, 2 WP) and Soph #39 Paul Twining (0-1, 9.00 ERA, 17 apps, 19 IP, 33 H, 12 BB, 20 K, .384 BA, 3 HR, 1 HBP, 0 WP).